Response to CBS program 60 Minutes: “The War Within”

by: FHE Admin

On Sunday, November 24 the CBS program 60 Minutes aired “The War Within: Treating PTSD,” a documentary about vets with PTSD in therapy. The treatment discussed was Prolonged Exposure Therapy. While CBS does not seem to take a stance on the question of whether this particular therapy is effective, I believe that all SE® Practitioners who saw the program were heartbroken by the vets' suffering and frustrated by the fact that Somatic Experiencing® could do so much more to help these people getting their lives back.

If you have not seen the 60 Minutes documentary, you can watch it below (or click here to open it in a new window) –

In response to the program and the concern many of you have expressed, I am writing to update you on efforts the SE Trauma Institute is making to effect positive change for our military personnel and veterans.

I live in San Diego, which has a large community of vets, and I'm feeling on a daily basis the suffering that is the direct result of the job we asked these people to do for our country. It breaks my heart, and I think we can make a change. Peter Levine recently dedicated two case consultations to working with vets, in Los Angeles and San Diego, with the help of Vanessa Hughes, an SEP who works at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). I attended both days, and I can tell you I have never seen a room so filled with love. SE works!

For the last few months, Peter has also been working on a video project that will help vets and active duty military understand the power of SE in dealing with PTSD. Through the generosity of several donors, the SE Trauma Institute will be able to fund production of this video, which will be completed this winter. We intend to distribute it free of charge over the Internet to all of you, to help promote SE within the military communities. We will also use it to crack open doors at the very top of the VA, and we will send it to 60 Minutes, in hope of inspiring a follow-up documentary with CBS on the healing of PTSD.

In addition to the video, we are forming a task force to understand better how we can build trust within the military community. While our ultimate goal is to get vets to work with SEPs, we must first address trust issues, misunderstandings about vets, behavioral differences, issues with therapy, and so on. We are teaming up with vets and VA personnel to explore these challenges in detail, and we expect to start a pilot project in 2014, offering services on a small scale. Once we know how we can make this work, we will share our findings with you and look at ways to start a broader movement to get SE to the vets who need us most. For that we will need your hearts, and your help.

I will keep you posted on developments, and let you know as soon as possible when the video is available for distribution.

– Rob Gussenhoven

Rob Gussenhoven is the interim executive director at the SE Trauma Institute.

Image ©CBS

Comments (14)
  1. PRIVATE

    Hello!

    My name is Eva Belanger and I am the Executive Director of a non profit called Warriors Live On. We are a new non profit whose mission is to help Veterans heal from PTSD. We want to address the whole person, (body, spirit, heart and mind) in a holistic and grounding way.

    I am a combat Vet who has suffered from severe PTSD and still suffer with chronic pain, migraines and PTSD symptoms. I have come a long way though (!!!) and one of the reasons is from my treatment undergone in Los Angeles by Dr. Robin Roberts in Santa Monica. She is an SE therapist and I tribute her with a large portion of my health.

    I am also a mental health therapist and worked at the VA as a readjustment counselor for Veterans with combat trauma. I believe fully that SE is a much better therapy for PTSD then almost anything being employed at the VA.

    I currently work with a therapist now for my personal care that is being trained in SE. She is located here in San Diego.

    I would LOVE to establish a relationship with those that are employing the SE therapy for Veterans that I plan to take in through our program at Warriors Live On. Please visit our website at http://www.warriorsliveon.org. We also have a face book page under the name of Warriors LIVE ON.

    Please be in touch at your earliest convenience?

    Very Respectfully,
    Eva M. Belanger
    Founder and Executive Director
    Warriors Live On

  2. Karen Bozarth

    PRIVATE Rob I watched the program on Prolonged Exposure Therapy and I was horrified to witness the trauma the therapy inflicted on these veterans.

  3. What a shame that so many people continue to call it “PTSD,” which is officially a mental disorder, when what it really is is _war trauma_. If we do not call it what it is, war trauma, we are complicit in covering up or distancing from the fact that it is war that causes the devastation, and we add to the burden of those who are already devastated, because when we label them mentally ill, that does not help them and does harm them in a huge variety of ways. I address this in great detail in When Johnny and Jane Come Marching Home: How All of Us Can Help Veterans, especially in Chapter 3. And we have documentation that using NON-pathologizing approaches are extremely helpful.

  4. rj jones

    please let me know when your video is available on line.
    doc jones
    3/27 marines
    retired
    ptsd patient

    1. Laura Piché

      The video is now available on our YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjeJC86RBgE. Thank you!

  5. Heather Berberet

    PRIVATE

    Rob,

    I am one of Steve’s San Diego students and a part of the cohort Joanie has been assisting. I read this article you wrote and would love to help with the task force. I am obviously not the expert in Somatic Experiencing, but I would like to be able to bring the LGBT voice to the process. My wife is the CEO at the San Diego LGBT community center and they have been recently approached by the VA about trauma work with LGBT vets. You may have this role already filled, but if not I am interested. Feel free to call or e-mail if you would like to discuss further. Thanks for all the amazing work you are doing.

  6. Thank you for your interest Doc! Peter’s new and informative video to help promote SE within the military communities will be made available on our website and Facebook page by February 10th. Through the generosity of two major donors the SE Trauma Institute was able to fund the production of this project. The video will be used to promote SE among vets and active duty military, and will be sent to 60 Minutes, in the hope of inspiring a follow-up documentary with CBS on the healing of PTSD.

    Please feel free to contact me with any questions regarding this!

    Laura Piché | Program Development Manager
    SE™ Trauma Institute

  7. Elle Eldridge

    Hello Laura Piche, I was not able to find the video that was going to be posted Feb 10, as mentioned above. Has it been posted?

    1. Laura Piché

      The video is now available on our YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjeJC86RBgE. Thank you for your patience!

  8. I too am interested in your upcoming video. Years ago, I was enamored with the Brats: Our Journey Home video that finally showed us military dependents being considered another casualty of war. I have been a professional massage therapist for over 27 years and found my greatest release and understanding from the grief processing I learned with my divorce and subsequent family systems views from John Bradshaw. While watching “The War Within” on 60 minutes, I was proclaiming out loud just how much better the vets could feel if they could get in touch with their human side (which most of them have been trained against/out of). My congratulations on the promoting of your SE video and let me know of any help you might need here in the Sacramento area. Tom

    1. Laura Piché

      The video is now available on our YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjeJC86RBgE. Thank you!

  9. Laura Piché

    Thank you for your patience: the video we promised is now available on our YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjeJC86RBgE. Thank you all for your interest in this important issue!

  10. nancy

    PRIVATE
    With a full heart, I want to to thank you. As a military veteran who immigrated (1975) from Vietnam as a child, I personally understand the effects of PTS from war conflicts fully. In addition, I grew up seeing the effects of what the Korean war had done to my father, the Vietnam conflict’s effect upon my mother, and currently, the effects of what OIF & OEF has done to my husband and friends. As a recent graduate of Social Work, my passion is to learn the best trauma-informed approaches that will successfully support our soldiers recover from war trauma. Due to financial constraints, I am not yet able to attend the SE courses, therefore I periodically view this site to remind me of the excellent work that continues on trauma work. In the midst of reviewing the site, I came upon this article and my heart was deeply touched with gratitude of knowing this organization is deeply committed with assisting our military veterans. I can not begin to explain complete excitement and peacefulness I am feeling of knowing SE is the correct route in my future.
    With much sincere respect to SE’s members,
    Nancy Ward, MSW

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